Monday, November 19, 2007

Lincoln High School Teacher makes The New York Times

I hate to even bring up high school—many of us are so far off from it. But it's worth reading an article, "English, Algebra, Phys Ed ... and Biotech," in the Sunday Times that features a science teacher at Lincoln High School. It talks about a biotechnology course he started about 10 years ago. It's a perfect example of the outstanding programs you can find in San Francisco's public schools. And before you know it, we'll all be looking for high schools.

Here's the lead into the article by G. PASCAL ZACHARY:

"MORE than a decade ago, after George Cachianes, a former researcher at Genentech, decided to become a teacher, he started a biotechnology course at Lincoln High School in San Francisco. He saw the class as way of marrying basic biotechnology principles with modern lab practices — and insights into how business harvests biotech innovations for profit.

If you’re interested in seeing the future of biotechnology education, you might want to visit one of George Cachianes’s classrooms. “Students are motivated by understanding the relationships between research, creativity and making money,” he says.

Lincoln has five biotech classes, each with about 30 students. Four other public high schools in San Francisco offer the course, drawing on Mr. Cachianes’s syllabus. Mr. Cachianes, who still teaches at Lincoln, divides his classes into teams of five students; each team “adopts” an actual biotech company.

The students write annual reports, correspond with company officials and learn about products in the pipeline. Students also learn the latest lab techniques. They cut DNA. And recombine it. They transfer jellyfish genes into bacteria. They purify proteins. They even sequence their own cheek-cell DNA.

Cool, eh? And very, very important."

To read the full story click on "English, Algebra, Phys Ed ... and Biotech."


  1. Speaking from experience, you are right that it is not too early to keep your eye on the middle and high school scene. Once you are in ensconced in a great elementary school with Alice--and you will be!--you may hear the 5th grade parents talking about middle schools, or even about high schools for their older kids. And it will be time for you before you know it. Really, the elementary years seem to fly by.

    Based on this K search experience, you must know how great it would be to have a sense of how some of the schools are improving (or maybe declining--hopefully not) over several years, i.e., the trajectory. I started attending our PTA "middle school nights" starting when my oldest was in third grade. I actually toured a couple of middle schools the following year and then went back during the big search of 5th grade. It was interesting to see what had changed (mostly in the direction of improvement and more resources, glad to say). Also, the middle school search was much less difficult than the K search. Fewer schools to see, greater clarity on our part of the academic and social needs of the kids by then, and we were more confident of what our kids could actually get in the public schools.

    Thanks for posting the great article about the Lincoln High teacher and kids. That's really so great.

  2. Speaking of articles about SF public schools, did you see the article yesterday in USA Today about Mandarin language education? They have some very cute pictures and quotes from Starr King.

  3. I went to high school with the UCSF professor (Wendell Lim) who worked with the Lincoln students. We both attended an academically intense private school where it was not unusual for high school students to do laboratory research at the nearby university. I'm gratified that he is extending similar opportunities to the excellent public school students at Lincoln HS.
    SFUSD parent and scientist